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Henry Judd

Books in Review

Germany Surveyed

(January 1950)

From The New International, Vol. XVI No. 1, January–February 1950, p. 64.
Transcribed by & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Les Temps Modernes, Nos. 46–47, August–September 1949
Special Issue on Germany, 374 pp.
Director, Jean-Paul Sartre, 30, Rue de l’Université, Paris vii.

This brief review is only to bring to the attention of our readers who have a reading knowledge of the French language what is surely the most valuable survey on contemporary Germany yet produced. In this double number of Les Temps Modernes, the magazine published by Sartre – incidentally, one of the best socio-literary magazines produced in the world today – has assembled a series of articles and documents on Germany which give the reader a collective, overall view of that land. The outstanding merit of this work, edited by Elie Gabey, is the fact that it is entirely the product of German authors, journalists, critics and writers.

The issue is divided into three sections: War and Resistance Movement; the Occupation; and Germany: Year Zero, a section containing a cultural and sociological survey of the country today. There are articles on the type and quality of the German resistance movement, written by participants who objectively weigh its failure; studies of German soldiers in action and German occupation techniques; reports on the politics of occupation, including some written by SED members and supporters; and, finally, studies of German literature and its new problems, the “Jewish question” in Germany, German contemporary science and art, including an article on the revival of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis since the end of the war.

To single out a few of the outstanding articles is not easy, but we may mention Hugo Buschmann’s article on the resistance movement; a study of German refugees in Germany by Marnix (who estimates there are now 14,000,000 refugees within the Western zones); Otto Hess’ piece on how the Stalinists took over the University of Berlin; Eugen Kogon’s excellent study on German reactions to the problem of the concentration camps, and many interesting pieces on problems of German art, literature, etc. Nor should we neglect to mention a fascinating study by Hilde Thurnwald, a trained sociologist, on family life in Berlin.

The editor of this issue has done well to include several pieces written by German Stalinists. The reader is once more struck by the leveling effect that Stalinism has upon both thought and style. The resemblance between Stalinist “intellectuals,” no matter how diverse and unrelated is their respective national origin, is something deadly to behold.

The diversity of opinion and attitude of those Germans who live in the Western part of divided Germany is, under the circumstances, a sign of recovery and health. Many viewpoints, ranging from liberal and religious intellectuals to Social-Democrats and revolutionary socialists, are represented.

It would be impossible to comment on all that is contained within this issue except to repeat that it is unquestionably the best study of Germany yet to appear. This is the real Germany, seen from within! Copies may be obtained by writing to the address of Les Temps Modernes, listed above.

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